An American Hero Gives It Up

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - June 06, 2007

Cindy Sheehan tossed in the towel last week - on the American political system and on American society. After the death of her son in George Bush’s war in Iraq and more than two years spent protesting that war, Sheehan says that she is “going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.”

Sheehan lost a lot. Her son Casey was only 24 years old and 10 days into his deployment in Iraq when he was killed in Baghdad three years ago.

In August 2005, Cindy Sheehan became the most visible spokesperson against the Iraq war. She journeyed to Crawford, Texas, pitched a tent down the road from Bush’s ranch, and asked the president to take an hour from his annual five-week vacation to come out and explain to her why her son had died.

Bush didn’t oblige her, of course. There was brush to be cleared and jogging to be done and sophomoric witticisms to be sneered at reporters and visiting dignitaries. Besides, Bush was unclear in his own mind why Casey Sheehan died. Weapons of mass destruction? 9/11 and the so-called war on terrorism? Defending Iraq’s infant democracy? Denying alQaeda a base in the Middle East?

No, Bush didn’t know. When you have a reason of the month, things get confusing after four years of war: 48 months of a trumped-up war, built on ideological nonsense and the incompetence of a president Garrison Keillor recently dubbed that “dim, little man.”

So when Bush left Crawford, so too did Sheehan - more intent than ever on protesting the war. Today, 22 months later, she’s done.

“... I began this single-minded crusade,” she wrote last week, “to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.”

She continued: “... I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

“Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.”

Bitter words, but understandable. Many worldwide consider the United States the greatest threat to peace on the planet. In Bush the Younger’s hands they may well be right.

The Republican neoconservatives who make Bush’s foreign policy act unilaterally, threaten rather than negotiate, and refuse to heed a democracy’s public opinion (which has turned decidedly against the war), last fall’s election results (which turned a Republican Congress into a Democratic one), or the conclusions of their intellectual betters - the Baker-Hamilton Commission (which advised a phased withdrawal from Iraq).

The Bush administration offered us a bloody surge instead - and in April and May the worst two-month American casualty count of the war.

I interviewed Sheehan last year on PBS-Hawaii’s Island Insights. She seemed sad and weary, but certainly committed to her continued protest against the Iraq War. Bitterness had yet to set in.

That was before last fall’s elections. Everyone who opposed Bush’s malfeasance in Iraq - Sheehan included - saw the elections as a mandate for congressional Democrats to wind down the war and begin bringing troops home.

They’ve done neither. Instead, they’ve folded before Bush’s vetoes and his accusation that an unwillingness to fund his war-without-end constituted dis-loyalty to American men and women in the field. Bush and Karl Rove have scared the Democrats into passivity.

And Sheehan called them on it, so many Democrats turned their criticism on her as well.

Sheehan gave her son to this senseless war, and she gave every ounce of her energy to ending it - while too many of the rest of us have been sitting by in silence, allowing our “dim, little” president to proceed.

May Cindy Sheehan find her peace.

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